Prime Minister Julia Gillard
Prime Minister Julia Gillard Rob Williams

Gillard ignores rising electricity prices

PRIME Minister Julia Gillard ignored skyrocketing electricity prices in Queensland while Labor was in power, the state's Energy Minister Mark McArdle said.

Mr McArdle was responding to claims by Ms Gillard that states were to blame for escalating power prices.In a speech to the Energy Policy Institute of Australia today, Ms Gillard will defend the impact of the carbon tax on electricity bills, instead highlighting how state governments plan to extract $32 billion in revenue over the next four years from utilities.

But an angry Mr McArdle said reforms to Queensland's electricity industry - initiated by former premier Anna Bligh and rubber-stamped by the Federal Government - had led to an 83% hike in household electricity prices.

He said Ms Gillard's latest attack on the states was a clumsy attempt to deflect attention from the impacts of the Federal Government's carbon tax, which he said would be responsible for the biggest increases to Queenslanders' power bills.

"The insincerity of Julia Gillard on this topic is breathtaking," Mr McArdle said.

"After five years of Labor in Canberra, Ms Gillard is only speaking out now because consumers are hurting because of the carbon tax on power bills.

"Ms Gillard ignored the matter when Anna Bligh was premier. It has only now dawned on her that Labor's policies have caused the big price hikes."

Mr McArdle said the Newman government had taken a number of steps since coming to power in March to keep Queensland electricity prices under control, including freezing the main domestic tariff and implementing a series of reviews.

Ms Gillard's attack on the states has drawn criticism from federal Coalition frontbenchers Greg Hunt and Ian Macfarlane, both of whom accused the Prime Minister of hypocrisy.